My grandparents gave me money to go to college.
Now they have to give me money to TEACH college.
I thought if I got a master’s degree and taught college, I’d be able to support myself. But because I can only get part time faculty jobs that pay as little as a third as much as a full time teaching job per class, offer no health insurance most of the time, and have gaps in pay between semesters and no guarantee of work or enough classes to survive from semester to semester, I have to ask my 86 year old grandfather and his 89 year old wife to help me out.
My grandfather is proud to help me because I'm the most educated person in my family, and being a "professor" looks like part of that American Dream about each generation doing better than the one before.
Ironically, with two years of college, he was able to own a house and support a stay at home mom and three kids by my age while I consider myself lucky to make my rent, and that I have one school that provides health insurance for me alone (no family allowed).
I taught for eight years at four different districts before any of them offered me health insurance. Before that, I was paying $200 a month out of pocket for a long-term medication.
I took out $50,000 in student loans to get the degree that’s required to do my job. That’s ballooned to over $100,000 with interest because it’s been tough to pay with irregular work and having to pay for any medical expenses out of pocket for eight years. My student loan payments are more than my rent.
I also work more than a full time load when my multiple jobs are added together, and split the difference between what I can teach effectively and the number of classes I need to pay my bills.
I wish my story were unique, but I know many part time faculty members who only have health insurance through their spouses or have none when a major medical crisis like cancer comes up. Others still live with their parents in their forties and fifties because they love teaching in spite of how we are treated.
Community college districts do this with the legal fiction, allowed by state law, that we are "temporary" employees even though most of us will work in the same districts for decades. They only offer us part time jobs to avoid providing health insurance or fair pay even though when you add the multiple schools most of us are employed by, we work more than full time for these state-financed schools.
What kind of morals and what about the value of education are we teaching our students when college instructors are treated like suckers and Walmart employees?
Something is profoundly wrong when our education system is aping the worst practices of the private sector rather than leading by example. Administrators have failed to act responsibly in these matters and need more guidance from the legislature.
If the Assembly approves AB 1343 or AB 591, it would go a long way toward ending these abuses.
To support these bills, you can comment directly on them at these links:
AB 1343 comment form
AB 591 comment form
Cross-posted at FACE Talk